YouTube has allowed conspiracy theories about interference with voting machines to go viral

- MEDIA METTERS - Nov 13, 2020 -


The platform has also made money from ads airing on some of the videos

YouTube has allowed users to share videos pushing false conspiracy theories alleging interference with voting machines and election computer systems. The videos have racked up millions of views, and the platform has profited from some of them.

Numerous false voter fraud conspiracy theories have circulated on social media since Election Day, including a couple claiming that the election’s technological infrastructure was hacked or tampered with. One theory falsely alleged that some kind of supercomputer named “Hammer” and a computer program called “Scorecard” were used to alter vote counts (and that footage shown on CNN last year proves it); the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in the Department of Homeland Security has called it “nonsense.” The other conspiracy theory falsely alleged that Dominion Voting Systems, which has created election software multiple states have used, changed vote tallies because of “glitches”; in actuality the glitches were not related to the software and did not change vote counts. (President Donald Trump has embraced this conspiracy theory.)

Though they are false, the claims have gained particular traction on YouTube. The platform has suggested that election misinformation that does not directly encourage people to interfere with the vote count does not violate its rules and says it is not algorithmically promoting inaccurate videos.

Media Matters used the tracking tool BuzzSumo to review videos posted between November 5 and November 12 that have at least 10,000 views and had “hammer” and “scorecard” or “dominion” in the title, and we found 41 such videos, with a combined total of nearly 3 million views. The videos in turn have drawn more than 200,000 combined Facebook engagements.


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